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I Mathematics predicting physics

  1. Nov 12, 2016 #1
    Hi everyone. I was wondering, just out of curiosity, what are some examples of physicists using mathematics to make physical predictions that are later verified by experiment? I'm not a student of physics, but I've heard of how Maxwell used mathematics to calculate the velocity of a postulated electromagnetic wave and found out that it coincided with the speed of light. That prediction is amazing to me, how just building from known physics laws (derived from experiment), the use of mathematical tools like calculus allowed physicists to make predictions that are completely unexpected and counterintuitive, but that actually describe reality. Are there other great physical discoveries that have been predicted by mathematical models beforehand, rather than directly discovered by experiment?

    Actually, not limited to just physics, do you have any favorite unexpected discoveries in any science (biological, chemical, etc.) that have been predicted by mathematical models before being discovered experimentally?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 12, 2016 #2


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    How about Neptune and Pluto?
  4. Nov 12, 2016 #3
    Elementary particles eg Higgs.
  5. Nov 12, 2016 #4


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    General relativity.

    Noether's theorem

    Edit: nuclear energy & The Manhattan Project
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
  6. Nov 12, 2016 #5
    Every synthetic molecule, black holes.
  7. Nov 12, 2016 #6


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    There is good reason for the saying 'mathematics is the language of science'. This may be of interest; https://arxiv.org/abs/1111.6560,https://arxiv.org/abs/1111.6560,Mathematics [Broken]Mathematics : The Language of Science
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  8. Nov 12, 2016 #7
    Bad link methinks.
  9. Nov 12, 2016 #8


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